My son asked me the other day, “Dad, why does DirecTV offer a lower price for ‘new customers only'”? Great question and since we watch Shark Tank from time to time, I saw a tie-in: because it would otherwise cost a lot to acquire a new customer. Offer them a discount and it lessens an otherwise very expensive undertaking.
This got me thinking about hiring. How could this principle apply to the act of filling positions at my company? Perhaps one of the old maxims I had believed in for years was wrong; maybe hiring from within was not nearly as beneficial to the organization as it first appeared. Are you putting yourself and your company at a disadvantage by falling into the same trap?
Let’s look at the conventional wisdom about promoting from within. It enables you to work with a known quantity, an employee whose strengths and weaknesses are already apparent. Often, a human resources professional will assume that the devil she knows is better than one with whom she is unacquainted. Furthermore, promoting from within rewards excellence and often improves staff morale. Colleagues who notice that Tom is moving up the ladder will be more likely to step up their own game in hopes of enjoying a similar fate at some point in the future.
While it’s difficult to quibble with these compelling reasons, I have come to realize, via the DirecTV model, that there are equally persuasive benefits that can be gained from looking outside the organization. Just as this communications company might lose a little money during the new customer’s introductory period, my firm would need to devote a certain amount of staff time to train the fledgling employee. However, it is also likely that he or she would not command the same salary that a long-time staff member would in a similar position. What’s more, he or she would be a blank slate in many ways, free of the baggage and rigid habits that veteran workers usually possess. Finally, the value of infusing “new blood” into a department or firm cannot be overestimated. In fact, the presence of an open-minded, fresh employee can help the entire staff to think and perform in new and positive ways.
My son is a perfect example. With his fresh perspective and his willingness to ask a question and challenge the status quo, he got me thinking. Ultimately, he revolutionized my viewpoint on a subject I tackle every day at work. I might never sign up for DirecTV, but I certainly am glad their advertisement attracted my son’s attention and changed the way I saw a small aspect of the business world.